of the Bride: When it had been decided that a man would
marry and a bride had been chosen, there was a formal
request for the bride. A friend or relative of the groom
went to the bride’s family asking for her hand.
Betrothal Feast: It came in a formal announcement to
the village that the couple would be wed. Animals were
slaughtered and a meal of meat and rice, followed by
coffee and tobacco, was prepared by the groom’s male
relatives. The women gathered to rejoice in the house
of the bride. If the bride was from another village, the
feast was more elaborate. The friends and family walked
to the other village, singing and dancing along the way.
The groom’s family brought food and cooking fuel and
prepared meal at the house of the bride.
Price: There was negotiation of the bride price given by
the groom to her father. The payment could be given
partly or totally to the bride herself. It was often
used to obtain a wife for her brother. The highest
price was paid for a virgin bride and half that sum for
a widow or divorcee. An expensive bride was a source of
pride and respect for her husband.
Preparations: During the week preceding the wedding
there were long evenings of singing, dancing and
feasting by the groom, his family and guests. At this
time the groom purchased the wedding outfit for his
bride. The royal dress (malake) and the jacket (taqsire)
were the most important items in the bridal trousseau.
The fame of Bethlehem couching spread all over southern
Palestine, and every bridegroom who could afford it was
expected to buy a Bethlehem dress.
of Henna: The last evening before the wedding day all
attention was focused on the bride. The female relatives
of the groom went to her house to decorate her hands and
feet with henna. Other women, children and young men
came to stain themselves with henna. The party was
expected to weep at the thought of the bride leaving her
day: On the day of the wedding the mothers and sisters
bathed her. The groom was prepared in the same way and
dressed up by his family. For a virgin bride, a camel
was prepared to take her from her father’s house to the
house of her husband. The camel was piled with rugs,
cushions and decorated with sprigs of citron for good
luck and blessings.
Procession: The procession to bring a bride from
another village was an exciting event and an expression
of village pride. Along the way, the women sang and
clapped and uttered their shrill trills of joys (zagharit).
From time to time the procession stopped while the men
raced their horses and performed the sword dance.
Special songs were sung.